This poem is written in the “villanelle* form. I wrote it as a reminder to myself of how hard the darkness of depression can be so that I don’t lose my compassion for those in my world who are struggling to find the Light. But it is also a reminder that the Light of Christ does shine in that darkness, however faintly, and will never be extinguished. If you feel oppressed by the darkness, seek His Light.
The light shines in the darkness Faintly I see His light My need I will confess
Toward the light I press Keeping hope in my sight The light shines in the darkness
Despair my soul’s distress Entangled in the night My need I will confess
His grace I will profess Giving me the strength to fight The light shines in the darkness
I feel anguish oppress Crushing with all its might My need I will confess
Feeling His love’s caress Compassion burning bright The light shines in the darkness My need I will confess
* vil·la·nelle, [vil-uh-nel]
a short poem of fixed form, written in tercets, usually five in number,
followed by a final quatrain, all being based on two rhymes.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2-4, NLT
There are many different points where our Lord connects to us through our desperation. Our sorrow and confusion can be how God ‘wires us’ for additional contact— in some kind of weird and cosmic way, my pain becomes His ‘copper wire.’ This often is how He touches my heart as He flows through it.
It is helpful to see our issues in this way.
There is a current that must work through us, making contact and ultimately creating a circuit. What I mean by this is that it seems we have to experience pain, in order to know His presence. Only if you know that a brother has struggled, do you become aware that a pearl of tremendous wisdom (and love) is now accompanying him.
We must be aware that our distress allows us access to His ‘careful’ grace. Our trials, properly received, endow us with special and supplemental power.
When it gets dark, light becomes exceptional. In a book by Stephen Lawhead, (I think it was “the Silver Hand.”) we see a man, the hero take up stones that have been infused with the creative power of the universe. Standing on the walls of a besieged stronghold, the desperate hero throws the stones down on the attackers. And as each stone smashes into the ground it releases a part of a song, which destroys the enemy and defeats those strong in the darkness. (Silly story.)
His Spirit infuses Himself into our hearts.
He has imparted something in us that is both precious and powerful. He works through the pain and struggles that we encounter. These are terribly ugly, no question. But it is through these we plug into something real and eternal. I suppose when the tragedy finally brings real life it’s a most precious thing. We treasure all this for it comes at such an exorbitant price.
Pain indeed has a purpose, but oh, so many times it seems to only hurt.
But yet, that is our calling. I certainly know that life is seldom easy and our choices are even harder. I recently read that Queen Victoria, as just a teen fiercely opposed her future coronation as the sovereign of England. She grew sullen, and rebellious and would continually frustrate her teachers.
Only once when Victoria was shown a lineage that showed her and revealed her place in England’s future as queen. She became uncharacteristically quiet and she responded with an astonishing simple awareness, “I will be good.” From that moment everything changed for her.
We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”.
Ephesians 6:12, ESV
Satan attacks us in two distinct and recognizable ways.
First, he stirs up our desires and inflames our appetites for sin. He is very good at this. He knows all about you, and what you like.
Second, he accuses us of committing evil against God. Scripture identifies him as “the accuser of the brethren.” He condemns us as perverse, rebellious, seditious, and evil. “See what an evil wretch you are, your heart is small, black, and hard.”
But the believer will run to the cross, and hold on. He will hear the blood of Jesus cry out for his soul. In this simple act of obedience and faith, he allows Jesus Christ to deliver him/her from the darkness. There is absolutely nothing to be done except this, and this is enough.
My sinfulness can never hold me as a broken believer, as long as have a child’s heart of humility.
I read this the other day.
“And thus I shall always do, whenever you leave me to myself.”
I cannot fight this dark battle in and of myself. I have neither the armament nor the understanding to take on “cosmic powers”. I must become broken, and weak, and then the Spirit will shelter me. Being manic-depressive can actually be of help. I know my own weakness, and it lays me at the feet of my Lord, with no pretenses of strength.
Romans 8:31-32, The Message reads like this,
“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?”
It seems like a dream, but I’m absolutely protected from my tormentors by someone with superpowers. And Scripture makes it clear that this is not far from the truth. God defends us not just because he loves us, he protects us because his reputation is on the line.
“Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture“
(verses 33-34, the Message)
Oh struggling saint, you cannot battle alone. Apart from him, you can do nothing. Spiritually, cover yourself with the righteousness of Jesus. Do not venture out against these dark forces, when you have the love of One who cannot fail.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2, NIV
This psalm focuses being intimate with our heavenly Father.
Throughout the entire chapter we see personal pronouns used. In contrast to other psalms that are directed to the nation, this one is written to an individual. This personal focus makes this a favorite psalm for many.
Shelter and shadow, refuge and fortress are the opening ‘word pictures’ used very elegantly. The psalmist writes what he knows, and it is apparent that he understand the needs of the human spirit, and for protection. Each of these four words creates a common link between believers. Each of us need a working understanding of all four protections.
Dwelling, resting and ‘saying’ are necessary elements for the word pictures to work. I should ‘dwell’ in God’s sheltered care. All too often, I wander out past the security of the Lord (or maybe I’m lured out?) But there is safety in having God so close to us. His proximity is for my protection.
“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
V.v. 3-4, maintains its personal or familiar tone. ‘Save you’ (salvation) is far more that a theological term. For the psalmist however, it’s not about ‘doctrine’; rather the psalm is an embrace. He is rescued from the trap, and the sickness that seems so contagious never touches him. Moving from metaphor to metaphor, he engages our imaginations to ‘see’ God’s salvation. The writer knows his stuff.
The Lord is pictured as a protective bird that covers his chicks.
We have a sure confidence as we gather together in that warm and safe spot under His wing. Whatever is after us has to go through God first. His presence is formidable. In His company is found our only safety.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”
Romans 8:31, 33
All of heaven is rallying for your well-being. You are sure of this based on your faith in God’s own word. He has ‘busted us’ out of a dark cage, and now defends you against all your enemies. And that is a very good thing.